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Assessing Previously Unassessed Petroleum Provinces Using the Variable Shape Distribution (Vsd) Model

Aguilera, Roberto F.1; Balistreri, Edward J.2; Cuddington, John T.2
1 IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), Vienna, Austria.
2 Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO.

Earlier size distribution models used to estimate undiscovered petroleum volumes relied mainly on the Lognormal and Pareto (i.e. Fractal) distributions. Historically, all the methods used have been based on an assumed form of the size distribution of nature’s endowment of petroleum volumes.

Our new Variable Shape Distribution (VSD) model is different in that it allows the actual petroleum data, in this case the province volumes from the U.S. Geological Survey’s World Petroleum Assessment (2000), to determine the size distribution relationship of the petroleum volumes.

The USGS (2000) study presents volumes for 409 provinces worldwide. Since the world can be divided into 937 provinces, there are 528 provinces not represented in the study. After using non-linear regression to estimate the parameters of the VSD model that provide the best fit of the data from USGS (2000), the VSD is used to estimate reasonable volumes for all 937 provinces.

The estimated volumes suggests that conventional petroleum is more abundant than commonly assumed, since there is a tendency to overlook previously unassessed provinces. The implication is that there is no danger of petroleum depletion over the next several decades.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009